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'Top Design' season finale: And the winner is ...

Guest blogger Karen Shih files her last Top Design recap. Thanks for writing, Karen!

It's the season finale! After 10 weeks, it has come down to Nathan (not surprising), Preston (kind of surprising, given his start) and Ondine (where did she come from?!).

As we know from last week, their final challenge is to finish the home they started last week. They jump right in, going shopping, figuring out wallpaper and painting immediately.

Nathan says he's trying to make a hip, young and good-looking home. Preston, as usual, wants sleek and modern with a traditional twist. Ondine is going for … Danish modern chic? I don’t know what Danish style is, but OK.

Since it's a big project and they have only two full days to work on the home, the designers get the help of two carpenters and a seamstress. After the first full day of working, they already have the houses wallpapered and painted.

And surprise! (But not really … ) They bring back Andrea, Eddie and Natalie to help our designers. Have none of these people ever watched Bravo? Really? I mean, this is only the most-used gimmick at the end of each show.

So Nathan gets Natalie, Preston gets Eddie and Ondine gets Andrea. As a sign of perhaps how helpful Eddie will be, he says this: "I just got kicked off the show and would really like to slit my wrists right now." Oh good, I want him on my team.

Moments later, we get this: "I'm here to help him, I’m not here to make him win," Eddie says. He's only a little bitter.

They all seem to be working quickly and efficiently, though by the second day, Ondine is having problems getting all her carpentry work done. She blames the speed of her carpenters, but she might have just been a little too ambitious with her projects. It all gets finished, though, in a frenzy of last-minute rearrangements.

Onto the judging! Ondine's place is retro-glam, hip, young, stylish and fun, she says. The living room is very '50s, with furniture from Denmark. The family room upstairs has two fuchsia sofas. In the dining room, there's a brass chandelier. There's some continuity in terms of a black-and-white theme throughout the whole home, though it doesn't seem that coherent. The master bedroom is blue, with golden wallpaper and golden curtains. The headboard for the bed is pieces of beveled mirror (which her carpenter spent all that time laboring over). The kids' room is very bright and yellow, super-cute and friendly looking. The study/guest room is the room from last week, all black and white with flowered wallpaper.

Preston's place is modern meets traditional, he says. The lounge area upstairs is very patterned and brown, so Jonathan says he needs a splash of color. The dining room is Preston's room from last week but modified with deep browns against the blue wall treatment. The bedroom is very patterned again, with dark browns and some green accents (Jonathan again wants to know where the splash of color is). The guest room is gray and blue; very masculine and very Preston. The office is colorful, with retro wallpaper that's full of fun circles.

Nathan's first room has a couple of old-looking wood pieces: an armoire and a table. Upstairs is kind of wacky. I can't describe Nathan's work, really. There's a paper-plate chandelier in the dining room. There’s a "sarcophagus" in the main room upstairs, which is too cumbersome, the judges say. The master bedroom from last week is essentially the same; he didn't change the bed, which Jonathan disagrees with, but Nathan did add some blinds and linens. The small room is a boy's bedroom. The office is bright robin's egg blue with portraits all over the walls of random old men. The wall above the desk has an ornate mirror and flashy flowery wallpaper.

As a side note, Kelly looks like she wrapped toilet paper around herself and now has layers flapping in the wind. Also her hairstyle is a little Princess Leia.

At the final judging, India reminds the contestants that they are competing to win $100,000 and a spread in Elle Decor magazine. The judging panel is the regular one: Margaret Russell, Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler and India Hicks.

It's clear that the judges like Nathan eccentric design style, though they questioned the "sarcophagus" decision, given how bulky it was in the room. Overall, however, they love his choices for individual pieces and really seem to be leaning toward his style. "It's very provocative and all the best of Nathan," Jonathan says.

Ondine's work is the most put-together they've seen from her, but they don’t seem particularly wowed by anything she did this week. They like the improvement, but it's hard to see how she'll win based on improvement.

They like Preston's flawless style but take issue with how polished it is. They want to see a little more excitement and a little dash of color, in his design.

So, surprise surprise, Nathan wins!

It's been fun blogging for any of you who have been reading. Top Chef takes Top Design’s place next week … yummy!

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